Monday, 9 January 2012

The Iron Lady On The Bus: A Challenge

Meryl Streep is currently hoovering up plaudits for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the film The Iron Lady, just opened in the UK. Of course, Brighton has a particular resonance for Mrs T - the IRA attempted to blow her up, together with her cabinet, when they were staying at Brighton’s Grand Hotel (pictured here in 2005) for the 1984 Conservative Party Conference. 9.1.12 Grand Hotel Picture 020 Mrs. Thatcher famously favoured The Great Car Economy (although it sounds more like something Chairman Mao might have said, only about tractors).
There’s also a belief that Mrs T called anyone taking a bus after the age of 26 “a failure,” although I can’t find a verified source. (Neither can Wiki). But it’s the kind of thing that she might have said – it’s akin to another of her epithets, which combines her dislike of economists and public transport, “You and I come by road or rail, but economists travel on infrastructure.”

The nearest thing to the bus quote was uttered by Leolia, Duchess of Westminster, who said “Anybody seen in a bus over the age of 30 has been a failure in life,” mentioned in the Financial Times on 25 October 2008, and in a letter to the Daily Telegraph in 2006. (Note to the Duchess: seen in a bus?). It’s a safe bet that most duchesses haven’t had much experience of buses, but you might expect a Prime Minister to have been on a bus whilst ascending the greasy pole. Or maybe Mrs T took against the bus after some ghastly experience en route from Grantham to Westminster. Either way, many Brits seem to share the alleged distaste of The Iron Lady and the Duchess for public transport in general and the bus in particular. Which doesn’t help when it comes to persuading people that public transport is a viable alternative to owning a car. So here’s the challenge: find a verified citation of The Iron Lady actually making the famous “bus” quote.

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